Critical Analysis of Cargo (2013)

Zombie productions are now a common phenomenon in the movie industry. Typically, they introduce the aspect of fear frequently missing in films and present the story in a manner bound to grip loyal fans. Nevertheless, there are some few instances when script writers craft a moving story that explores new angels in horror films. Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling are writers of this particular ilk, whose films are known for their highly poignant storylines. Their entrance into the shorty film arena began with the premier of Cargo (2013),which was an instant hit in Australia and a finalist at Tropfest festival. It stars Andy Rodoreda as a lone survivor in a dystopian future where a zombie apocalypse has ravaged a local population. Andy and his young daughter survive the first tragedy but now struggle to stay alive. It is, thus, fundamental to analyze this short film using psychoanalysis and a media-centered lens to gain a better understanding of all aspects pertaining to its production.

            Firstly, the main character (who remains anonymous throughout the film) is deeply attached to his daughter and would go to any length to keep her safe. His parental instincts kick in as soon as he accepts his current situation. The car crash had left him unconscious and without a recollection of the events that had occurred prior to him coming to. It is at this point that he realizes the true nature of what has happened prompting him to react with a sense of urgency. The impact killed his wife, after which she transformed into a zombie. From the first moment the main character sets his eyes on his wife, he is acutely aware that she is a threat to him and their daughter, warranting evasive maneuvers that would make sure that they remain safe. His initial actions were fuelled by a psychological connection to his daughter which causes him to act judiciously and urgently to avoid exposing her to danger. He immediately grabs his daughter from her car seat before realizing that his wife bit him on the arm (“Cargo | Finalist of Tropfest Australia 2013”). Even though the reality of this bite hadn’t really set in, his only concern is his daughter who needs him as her protector in this unfamiliar territory. The main character’s reaction to this situation is typical of the reaction one would expect as described in psychoanalytic theories. In this state, the father acknowledges the infants need for protection and attention. He reacts by providing their version of a “protective shield”, and strives to keep them out of harm’s way.

            Secondly, a media-centered critical lens reveals that the film is highly emotive and endeavors to appeal to the sentimental aspects of human nature. The film begins with a scene depicting the carnage that the main character is in at that particular moment. He is aware of the duty he has to his family to always ensure that they are together and not separated by any type of tragedy. Nevertheless, he soon realizes that this is a long shot and now has to content with the reality of having to deal with a family split right down the middle.  Leaving his wife is one of the most emotional scenes in the movie. Bidding goodbye to his dear wife is necessary, but affects his composure. Although it was a difficult period, he manages to walk away from the scene with his daughter and goes in search of survivors (“Cargo | Finalist of Tropfest Australia 2013”). He is convinced that this is the right thing to do and does so knowing that his actions are all in memory of his wife and his daughter’s future. It is also moving when he finally realizes that he is living on borrowed time and has to make the most of it before turning into a zombie. His daughter’s safety is a priority which is why he does all he can to protect her when he transitions into a zombie. By attaching carrion to a pole, he is lured by its smell and manages to continue with his journey through the deserted land. All the while, his daughter is out of harm’s way and securely held in his backpack.

            Thirdly, the Cargo (2013) is unique and different from other zombie films since it narrates a personal story. The zombie trope genre is known for its general presentation of characters and their struggle to adapt to an environment which is transforming rapidly. Rarely, do screenwriters zone in on individual characters and allow the audience to view the world through their eyes. Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling, relate a personal story about the struggles of keeping loved ones alive while avoiding the unnecessary exposition that are all too common in traditional zombie films. They avoid the fetish gore and place the film’s drama on two main characters to present a practical representation of an apocalypse.             In summary, Cargo (2013) is a renewed angle into zombie films with a focus on subtle elements commonly ignored in mainstream productions. The story is centered on a father obsessed with protecting his infant, with an emotional inclination whole providing a personal story. Its significance lies in the care that individuals may afford to others even if this entails losing their life in the process. The film is, therefore, bound to move the audience on an emotional level since it represents integrity and undying love through punishing situations.

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